Archive for Peter Riddell

Peter took up the Directorship at the Institute for Government on 1st January 2012. He was previously a Senior Fellow at the Institute and divided his time here with his work for the Detainee Inquiry, a privy counsellor panel looking at whether the British Government was implicated in the improper treatment of detainees held by other countries (a role from which he resigned at the end of last year to concentrate on the IfG). At the Institute, he co-authored reports on Transitions and Ministerial Effectiveness and has been closely involved in work on political and constitutional reform. Until mid-2010, Peter was a journalist for nearly 40 years, split between the Financial Times and The Times, where he had been their domestic political analyst and commentator. He has been a regular broadcaster, has written seven books and delivered frequent lectures. He chairs the Hansard Society, a non-partisan charity which promoters understanding of Parliament and representative democracy. He will be stepping down from this role in the next few months. Peter has received two honorary doctorates of literature, is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, an Honorary Fellow of the Political Studies Association and was one of the first recipients of the President’s medal of the British Academy. He was appointed to the Privy Council in July 2010 in order to serve on the Detainee Inquiry.

Peter Riddell’s Posts

The Prime Minister must ensure that he gets a chief executive at the centre

, 15 July 2014

The idea of appointing a full-time chief executive to lead the Civil Service is correct – provided the responsibilities and authority match the role. There are worrying signs in yesterday’s announcement that they will not, and we may have the second muddled reorganisation in three years.

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The roles of ministers and permanent secretaries should be complementary not conflicting

, 8 July 2014

Secretaries of state and permanent secretaries have different roles, which should be complementary, and not in conflict. That is why the latest row over a leaked five year old paper on ‘Permanent Secretary’ roles is so artificial, exaggerated and a distraction from the real issues of civil service reform.

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The Chilcot inquiry critics should be careful what they wish for

, 2 June 2014

The response to last week’s agreement between the Chilcot inquiry and the Cabinet Office over the disclosure of material on the Iraq war has been one-sided and ill-informed.


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A partially-reformed Civil Service – not an unreformed Whitehall

, 4 April 2014

Discussion about the Civil Service has heated up recently – with debates in Lords and the Commons, and with the formation of new cross-party group GovernUp. All that is good and the Institute for Government welcomes the broadening of the public debate on themes we have long addressed such as improving capability, commercial skills...

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Why the Prime Minister is wrong on pre-election contacts

, 31 March 2014

Of course, Labour and Whitehall will cope – as the Senior Civil Service always do. But the risk is that the preparations for a possible change of government will be less good than they should, or easily could, be. Pre-election contacts are crucial. They are far from foolproof: politicians rarely concentrate on what they...

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Clarity about pre-election contact with the Civil Service will lead to better government

, 13 March 2014

Since the first pre-election contacts between Whitehall and the Opposition began 50 years ago ahead of the 1964 election, various conventions and practices have grown up, as discussed in two IfG reports written by Catherine Haddon and myself (Transitions- preparing for changes of government published in November 2009, and Transitions: Lessons Learned – Reflections...

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Ofsted row obscures important facts about public appointments

, 3 February 2014

• The vast majority – around nine in ten – of persons appointed to public bodies declare no party links. • The latest figures from the Commissioner for Public Appointments shows that 3.3 per cent of appointees in 2012-13 declared a Conservative affiliation, compared to 3 per cent for Labour (with the balance favouring...

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A civil service inquiry could do some good – if it addresses long-term reform

, 20 January 2014

The main focus at present is on a Parliamentary Commission akin to the Banking Commission of both Houses which reported last year. That has been proposed by the Public Administration Committee, endorsed by the Commons Liaison Committee of chairs of select committees, and has now been backed by the majority of speakers in a...

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Detainee Inquiry – obstacles to finding out what happened

, 19 December 2013

Behind the careful legal language of the Detainee Inquiry report, a picture emerges of inadequate supervision and guidance, generally decent intentions and conduct, and the reluctance for a long time of the intelligence agencies and government to face up to the implications of Britain’s closest ally mistreating and torturing people. The agencies were initially...

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A really useful inquiry

, 6 September 2013

Inquiry blight is a real danger. But, as the latest report from the Public Administration Select Committee, Truth to power: how Civil Service reform can succeed, argues, there is a lot wrong now and there are a wide range of questions about the future of Whitehall going well beyond existing proposals which should be...

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